COVID-19 and the diaspora

This country is experiencing an event that has not been experienced in generations, if ever.  The Coronavirus pandemic has sent shock waves around the world causing havoc in government, medical, and financial systems on every continent.  Countries have struggled to manage handling the pandemic with initial breakdowns in trying to move quickly to prepare to defend their citizens.  Poor leadership has handicapped some countries while lack of resources has impacted others.  These missteps have filtered down and magnified the problem in countries and communities for people of color, black people in particular.  The following is this week’s snapshot of what is happening across the diaspora.

AFRICA

Stories of how African countries are handling the COVID-19 pandemic are all across the board.  Some countries are reporting various stages of the viral impact while a few are reporting having no cases at all.  At the time of writing this article Nigeria, Cameroon, and Uganda were reporting from dozens to hundreds of cases of those infected.  Kenya, Liberia and other nations are implementing various measures to prevent the rising numbers in their respective countries. Governments and citizens are beginning to look at foreign interaction with a wary eye.  The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has rejected its federal government’s proposed invitation of a Chinese medical team to support the country’s fight against coronavirus.  Many are up in arms over two French Doctors’ suggestions of putting experimental COVID-19 treatment in Africa (‘They See Africans as Lab Rats’). The African Union (AU) is now predicting the continent’s economy will contract by 0.8 percent this year. 

CARIBBEAN

The islands of the Caribbean find themselves at the cusp of dealing with the effects of the global pandemic. Both Haiti and Barbados recently reported their first coronavirus deaths. Trinidad and Tobago now have over a hundred cases. Cuba has sent nurses to Jamaica to assist in the COVID-19 battle. This prompted several Caribbean trading bloc governments to lock down countries or dramatically restrict movement of the public as the region battles to contain the deadly virus.

USA

To date, there are over six hundred thousand cases of those infected and approximately twenty-nine thousand deaths in the United States.  A major concern for all citizens, the alarm has sounded due to the high death toll of African Americans.  Though numbers vary from state to state black people make up an unusually high percentage of deaths throughout the country. 

Black People Are Disproportionately Getting and Dying From COVID-19

Recent reports have revealed that African Americans make up a sizable percentage of new cases in cities like Chicago (39%), and Milwaukee (81%). In Chicago the numbers are staggering…

…and Detroit’s predominantly black population cast a suspicious eye as researchers look to bring vaccine trials to the city invoking memories of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

A recent article in Black Enterprise states, “…one of the biggest reasons African Americans have been hit hardest by the virus in comparison to other ethnic groups stems from a historical mistrust with the healthcare system in the United States. African Americans are less likely to see a doctor over a health condition than other minorities because of a history of medical experiments and racial bias practiced by medical professionals.” There are a number of contributing factors but one thing is certain, African Americans are again getting the short end of the stick during a catastrophic event. Couple that with many in the black community not heeding the recommendations of medical experts or government orders to self-quarantine the problem then multiplies.

It has become apparent that serious discussions are needed in the black community on how to address this. We will need to demand more from community and government leaders in being prepared for catastrophic events. We also need to look in the mirror to ask are we doing everything necessary to protect ourselves, families, and communities. Lastly, this discussion should dove-tail with similar discussions all across the diaspora. 

What are your thoughts? Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below.


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